My little boy is 3.5 months old and I still waver between disbelief that he is here at all and the feeling that he’s been around forever. In the same way, 14 weeks seems a small time but 3.5 months feels a lot more substantial. I guess it’s time to start thinking in terms of months instead of weeks for the first time since my cycle started in June last year.
I’m already a little nostalgic for the tiny newborn he used to be. The magpie-like rattling sound he used to make is gone. So is the gumminess around the eyes and the completely unnerving habit of sleeping with his left eye open, though he does sometimes sleep with tiny slits open as if to monitor what’s going on while he’s out for the count. He still roots around occasionally but the dog-with-a-bone, feral urgency with which he tossed his head from side to side when confronted with a teat is mostly gone too.
It’s incredible how very tiny babies can communicate. The ‘lips clamped closed for business’ when they no longer want to feed is hilarious. So are the fleeting micro-expressions, especially when sleeping, that range from rage to disgust to contentment in parts of seconds. I love the way tiny babies’ facial expressions are so pure and undiluted before they learn how to hide their emotions like us adults.
For all that’s gone, we’re gaining so much, of course. He’s developing week by week and I now understand how people describe their very young babies as having personalities. I had wondered if he was going to be relaxed, as I never noticed him startling at sudden noises in the womb. He is indeed very chilled and not easily ruffled at all. Boy is he forceful already, though. Very early on we would get an “Aye!” from him when, say, left in his Moses basket alone (he likes to be among his people). It’s a sound a bit like the one Ali G made. We would respond from wherever we were in the room or house and he would “Aye!” back with escalating force until he was lifted out. This is now well-established as his go-to word for expressing displeasure at being ignored/finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time/realising his mobile has wound down etc etc.
I noticed a smile on the day he turned four weeks. And there was no mistaking this tentative little smile for wind, as is often said, mainly because most of his wind comes out elsewhere – by which I mean the farts, OMGod. (It’s like having a grown man in the bed beside you. I’ve no idea how such a little body makes these sounds. I brought him to baby cinema one morning a couple of weeks ago and I’m sure the couple behind me thought I had some flatulence problem that I was trying to cover with my “Well done! Better out than in!” protesting too much.) He graduated to laughing at around 10 weeks, when my mother got some guffaws out of him (completely by accident – she unknowingly tickled his chest and he exploded into the most mental guttural laughs).
I’ve never been sure what tiny babies can see, just light and shade I think. They still have an amazing capacity, equal parts unnerving and heart-warming, to stare and stare and stare directly into your eyes. Early on, the only thing he seemed to notice in the distance was lights but I’ve noticed lately that he’s focusing more on far-off objects like the TV: he likes when football is on (handy, what with the Euros and all) and the same with tennis (ditto Wimbledon), because of the green screen I guess. I turned on CBeebie’s “In The Night Garden” out of curiosity during the week and he was fixated (they know what they’re doing with these programmes, even if they’re creepy as hell for adults). He recognises the people closest to him for sure and does seem to notice if he’s in a place he hasn’t seen before – his head is all over the place trying to take things in. The big thing of the last few weeks has been his discovery of his hands – stuck in his mouth, trying to pick things up and guide them into his mouth, splayed possessively onto his bottle, very cute. Not so cute is the Godzilla-like swipe when he no longer wants the same bottle and the girlish shriek when he realises it’s gone.
We’ve also noticed he’s using his feet as a rudder to turn around 90 degrees. No more leaving him on the changing mat on the kitchen table very soon, methinks. His core is super-strong judging by the way he can thrusts his hip into the air. It’s very endearing the way babies kick and kick those legs for minutes at a time as if they’re trying to get somewhere. And I also love the dinosaur-like pose of sleeping with his lower arms poking straight up.
He is totally keeping us guessing with the hair colour. It’s like a mangy fox up there at the moment, patchwork galore. The gorgeous little whorl of hair you get on babies’ heads is brown, as is the little monk’s tonsure he currently has at the back – I’m not sure if this is old hair or new growth. His temples seem very blond and the small bit of growth on the soft part of his head could be brown but sometimes looks ginger, which may be just because of cradle cap. His eyelashes were blond when he was born but are now dark, yet his eyebrows are still very pale. The donor is blond and I have brown hair, and my money is on the latter.
I haven’t given the donor much thought since choosing him but once my boy was born it was obvious he looked like him. My mother commented on the baby’s unusual nose and he also has a distinctive chin, causing me to revisit the donor’s baby photos. The resemblance was startling, particularly in one photo, which I found quite nice. There may be something to the belief that first babies look like their fathers so that the cavemen didn’t think they had been cuckolded and bash the child and/or mother over the head with a rock.
I don’t recall one single dream about the baby when I was pregnant and I’m still not dreaming about him, bar one this week in which two men drove off with him in their van, not nice. This may because I haven’t slept more than two or three hours straight since late March and maybe I’m just not remembering my dreams but part of me wonders if my subconscious is still in some kind of denial that this has actually happened. Maybe a reflection of the disbelief I still feel that I could be so lucky. The little rush to the heart I feel when I look at my little man across from me in the bed certainly makes me feel pretty blessed.